California Open Access Legislation Clears Latest Hurdle

On May 30, 2013 David Knudson posted this in the official PLOS blog:

” The House Assembly today passed the California Taxpayer Access to Publicly Funded Research Act (AB 609). The act is now set to be heard in the Senate later this summer. If you live in California and would like to reach out to your state senator to show your support for AB 609 click on SPARC’s legislative action center and follow the prompts. If AB 609 becomes law, it will unlock access to the results of more than $200 million in annual, state-funded scientific research. We’d like to thank everyone who contacted their legislator to show support for this bill.

Meanwhile Open Access momentum continues in other states. The New York Open Access bill, S.4050 (Taxpayer Access to Publicly Funded Research) will be considered by the Senate Finance committee next week. PLOS will continue to follow these developments and keep you updated.”

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Nature special issue: The future of publishing

After nearly 400 years in the slow-moving world of print, the scientific publishing industry is suddenly being thrust into a fast-paced online world of cloud computing, crowd sourcing and ubiquitous sharing. Long-established practices are being challenged by new ones – most notably, the open-access, author-pays publishing model. In this special issue, Nature takes a close look at the forces now at work in scientific publishing, and how they may play out over the coming decades.


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Nature News Feature ‘Open Access: the true cost of science publishing’

Richard Van Noorden’s Nature v495 issue 7442 News Feature discusses the true cost of science publishing and the value publishers add for their money.
The article states that while data to support claims by either publishers of subscription journals or advocates of open access publishing has been lacking “The past few years have seen a change, however. The number of open-access journals has risen steadily, in part because of funders’ views that papers based on publicly funded research should be free for anyone to read. By 2011, 11% of the world’s articles were being published in fully open-access journals1 (see ‘The rise of open access’). Suddenly, scientists can compare between different publishing prices. A paper that costs US$5,000 for an author to publish in Cell Reports, for example, might cost just $1,350 to publish in PLoS ONE — whereas PeerJ offers to publish an unlimited number of papers per author for a one-time fee of $299. “For the first time, the author can evaluate the service that they’re getting for the fee they’re paying,” says Heather Joseph, executive director of the Scholarly Publishing and Academic Resources Coalition in Washington DC.
The variance in prices is leading everyone involved to question the academic publishing establishment as never before. For researchers and funders, the issue is how much of their scant resources need to be spent on publishing, and what form that publishing will take. For publishers, it is whether their current business models are sustainable — and whether highly selective, expensive journals can survive and prosper in an open-access world.” ….

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Supreme Court Upholds Application of First-Sale Doctrine to Works Created Abroad

The U.S. Supreme Court ruled yesterday, by a 6-3 vote, that the so-called First Sale doctrine protects the right of individuals and organizations, including libraries, who wish to purchase and import copyrighted documents such as  books or DVDs which are published, printed, or manufactured outside of the U.S. to re-sell the item or give those items away or, in a library context, circulate it freely. The case–Kirtsaeng v. John Wiley & Sons, Inc.–pitted a Thai national, Supap Kirtsaeng, a student at Cornell and later at the University of Southern California, against the large textbook publisher John Wiley & Sons, Inc.  Kirtsaeng had purchased copies of Wiley textbooks that were printed outside the U.S. and imported them to the U.S., where he sold them at higher prices as a means of helping to pay for his educational expenses. Wiley initially won a decision, which was upheld by the Second Circuit Court of Appeals; Kirtsaeng then appealed to the Supreme Court, which overturned the previous decision. 

The First Sale doctrine essentially states that the purchaser of a copyrighted work, whether an individual or a corporate entity, can do with the purchased item anything he, she, or it wishes. The case turned on a phrase in the Copyright Act, which limits that doctrine to works “lawfully made under this title.”  Wiley said–and lower courts agreed–that textbooks manufactured outside the United States could not have been made under American law and so remained subject to the control of the owner of the copyright. But Justice Stephen G. Breyer, writing for the majority, said the phrase was not concerned with geography. He said he doubted “that Congress would have intended to create the practical copyright-related harms with which a geographical interpretation would threaten ordinary scholarly, artistic, commercial and consumer activities.” He concluded, “We hold that the ‘first sale’ doctrine applies to copies of a copyrighted work lawfully made abroad.”

Breyer focused on the potential consequences of a contrary ruling upholding the copyright owner which, he said, “could prevent a buyer from domestically selling or even giving away copies of a video game made in Japan, a film made in Germany or a dress (with a design copyright) made in China.”  He also relied on supporting briefs from libraries, used-book dealers, technology companies and museums, all of which warned that allowing copyright suits over goods imported from abroad would have pernicious consequences. Libraries could be barred from lending foreign books, the briefs said, and museums from displaying modern works of foreign  art.

Breyer was joined by Chief Justice Roberts and Justices Alito, Kagan, Sotomayor, and Thomas; Justices Ginsburg, Kennedy, and Scalia dissented. Writing for the minority, Justice Ginsburg wrote that the divided ruling is a bold departure from Congress’s intention to protect copyright owners against the unauthorized importation of low-priced, foreign-made copies of their copyrighted works that is made more stunning by its conflict with current U.S. trade policy.

Both publishing groups and other groups representing copyright owners on the one hand, and groups representing libraries on the other, predict that the decision will lead to pressure from the publishing industry for Congress to further amend the copyright law.  A spokesman for the Library Copyright Alliance stated that “Libraries and our allies remain vigilant in defense of first sale and all of the rights that make it possible to serve our communities.”

–Adapted and  condensed from articles published March 19th by Jennifer Howard in the Chronicle of Higher Education and by Adam Liptak in The New York Times.


American Anthropology Association to Switch One of its Journals to Open Access

The American Anthropological Association publishes more than 20 journals, but none is open access. That will change early next year, when the journal Cultural Anthropology,  which is published by one of AAA’s sections,  switches over to a fully open-access model. “Starting with the first issue of 2014, CA will provide worldwide, instant, free (to the user), and permanent access to all of our content (as well as 10 years of our back catalog),” Brad Weiss, the society’s president, posted on AAA’s Web site.  “Cultural Anthropology will be the first major, established, high-impact journal in anthropology to offer open access to all of its research,” he adds, and bekueves that the experiment will be useful to other open-access publishing efforts in the social sciences and humanities.

CA’s editor, Charles D. Piot, Professor of Anthropology at Duke, has called open access “likely the wave of the future” and states that anthropologists havebecome increasingly concerned about the relationship between universities and commercial publishers.  The push for open access has spread far and wide in the sciences and is catching on among social scientists as well. “We’re producing articles that come out of the intellectual commons, and we hand them over to presses who sell them back to us,” Professor Piot says. “That’s been a strong moral issue for a lot of anthropologists that I’ve spoken to.” So has the desire to make research “freely available to people anywhere in the world,” not just those affiliated with universities that can afford journal subscriptions. 

AAA currently has a  contract with Wiley-Blackwell for its journals program. Cultural Anthropology’s switch to open access will not affect that contract, according to Edward B. Liebow, AAA’s executive director.  The journal will still be offered to library subscribers and to AAA members through the AnthroSource online portal.

The Society for Cultural Anthropology (the section off AAA that publishes CA) has already started to revamp its Web site and move content online in preparation for the shift. It hasn’t yet worked out whether it will use an author-pays model to cover costs or try what Prof. Piot called “the NPR model” and call on members for support. 

Liebow is not worried that the experiment will hurt AAA’s bottom line. “It’s important to recognize that while the revenue we receive from publishing is important to it financially, our publishing program doesn’t make money.”  Given that its publications represent “such an important part of our scholarly exchange, we think it’s worth the money to make the experiment.”

White House OSTP Issues Open Access Directive for Federal Agencies

Today the White House Office of Science and Technology Policy (OSTP) issued a directive which “directs each Federal agency with over $100 million in annual conduct of research and development expenditures to develop a plan to support increased public access to the results of research funded by the Federal Government.”  The directive covers both research articles and data.  Each agency needs to submit a plan to OSTP within six months indicating how they will comply with the directive.

More reading on the topic:

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Legislation Promoting Public Access to Federally Funded Research Introduced

Today, members of the U.S. House and Senate introduced the “Fair Access to Science and Technology Research Act of 2013” or FASTR. The bill, similar to the Federal Research Public Access Act (FRPAA), includes provisions that would enable digital reuse of publicly funded research and would ensure free, timely, online access to the published results of research funded by federal science and technology agencies. According to the Association of Research Libraries (of which UCSD is a member), provisions in this bill constitute an important step forward that reflects both how research is conducted and growing community practice. The Library hopes that you will contact your House and Senate delegations and ask that they co-sponsor FASTR.

FASTR would require those agencies with annual extramural research budgets of $100 million or more to provide the public with online access to research manuscripts (or final published articles under certain circumstances) stemming from such funding no later than six months after publication in a peer-reviewed journal. Within one year of enactment of FASTR, these agencies are to implement a public access policy and to the extent practicable, agencies should follow common procedures for the collection and deposition of research papers. The bill gives individual agencies flexibility in choosing the location of the digital repository to house this content, as long as the repositories meet conditions for interoperability, public accessibility and long-term preservation. An important change from past bills includes the need for agencies to provide “research papers…in formats and under terms that enable productive reuse, including computational analysis by state-of-the-art technologies.”

Amherst College librarian launches new open access publishing venture

One doesn’t normally think of small liberal arts colleges as having very much of a role in affecting the direction of scholarly communication in general or academic publishing in particular. But Bryn Geffert, head librarian at Amherst College in Massachusetts, believes the can and should. With the endorsement of Amherst’s president and Board of Trustees, he has recently launched Amherst College Press, which will produce a handful of edited, peer-reviewed, digital-first books on “a very small number of subjects.” “We want to do a few things well, not overextend,” he says.

Staff retirements have allowed Geffert to repurpose two salary lines in the library’s budget into an editorial staff, including a press director­—”somebody who’s absolutely committed to open access,” he says. “That’s a fundamental value for the press.”

Although he has no illusions that library publishing operations will challenge Elsevier anytime soon, Geffert hopes that they will eventually help to shift the economics away from the bottom-line model that drives much of academic publishing. “I’m going to risk sounding like a wide-eyed idealist here,” he says. “If at some point enough libraries are producing or working with presses to produce enough freely available information,” the amount they need to spend on materials will drop. If that happens, the savings “will more than offset the expense we’re investing.”

Geffert has received  helpful advice from directors of larger university presses but doesn’t know yet whether Amherst College Press will join the Association of American University Presses. AAUP’s members produce a lot of good work, he says, but it  has taken stands he doesn’t agree with. For one, it objects to the Federal Research Public Access Act, which would expand federal mandates that guarantee access to publicly supported research. And it has stood behind the publishers who sued Georgia State University over alleged copyright infringement in e-reserves. Does a library-based publishing operation really “want to be part of an organization where at least part of the constituency is suing libraries?” he asks.

–Extracted from a larger article by Jennifer Howard in the Chronicle of Higher Education, February 4, 2013.

UC San Diego Open Access Fund Pilot Subsidizes Author Fees

Last Fall, the individual University of California campuses, funded in part by the California Digital Library (CDL), launched pilot open access funds to support UC authors who wish to make their research findings immediately and freely available to the public.  The specifics of which activities the funds support differ from campus to campus (see

In the UC San Diego implementation of the fund (, eligible charges include Article Processing Charges (APCs) and Open Access (OA) fees for fully open access journals.  Funds from the pilot may not be used for color charges, page charges, illustration charges, or submission charges.  Articles must be made freely available at the time of initial publication, without any embargo periods.

UC San Diego faculty, graduate students, post-doctoral scholars, researchers, and staff are eligible to apply for funds. The fund will pay up to $1000 per article in a fully open access journal (journals in which all articles are immediately available open access). The fund does not currently support articles published in “hybrid open access journals” in which only some articles are open access and the journal itself remains only available by subscription.  There is a cap of one article per author per year. Applications can be made during the period after acceptance but before publication; already published articles are not eligible for this funding. Authors who are granted this funding will be reimbursed afterwards; only individuals can be reimbursed, not departments.

At UC San Diego, eight open access journal authors have been funded so far.  These authors represent eight different departments across campus and have published in journals from seven distinct publishers.  The diversity of this small sample is surprising – and encouraging.  The chief goals of the program are to foster greater dissemination of work by University of California scholars and to encourage greater awareness of authors’ rights.  The campuses will track how the funds are spent on each campus, and the success and sustainability of the pilot will be evaluated at the end of 2013.

If you have written an article in an open access journal and the article has been accepted but not published yet, apply for partial subsidy of OA fees.  More information about the fund, and the application form, go to


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UCSD Linguist Active in OA Publishing Initiatives

Eric Bakovic, Associate Professor of Linguistics, has been active for several years in investigating open access issues, including the instiguation of an OA publishing platform for scholars in his field. At the annual meeting of the Linguistic Society of America (LSA), held concurrently with the Modern Language Association  (MLA) last month in Boston, he co-organized a panel that included several big names in the Scholarly Communications field, including  Stuart Shieber, Director of Harvard’s Office for Scholarly Communication, and Kathleen Fitzpatrick, Director of Scholarly Communication for the MLA, as well as editors of two OA journals in linguistics, Kai von Fintel (Semantics & Pragmatics) and Lindsay Whaley (Linguistic Discovery).  Bakovic himself spoke on a range of business models that might be used to support the expenses of OA publishing, and librarians from MIT and Boston University spoke on the role of institutional repositories and the implementation of  faculty-initiated OA  policies. For more information on the panel, the panelists, slides/texts/audio from their presentations, and more on LSA’s own efforts in OA publishing, click here.

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